As I posted yesterday, I have returned from vacation. We decided, seeing as my daughter is just over a year old, that we needed a low key kind of place that was good for her to run around. My parents wanted to meet up with us so they could see their grandchild. We live in different sections of the country, and airplanes were probably not doable for us. (I refuse to be that parent who has the baby on the airplane who is intent on singing the refrain from the classic album, Screaming Babies Greatest Hits, for the whole 2 hour flight.) The Chicago/Milwaukee area was a good halfway point to drive from both of our respective homes.
I suggested some months back that we might try the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin. My seminary class did a retreat there a few times. The facility is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee. (I got the priest rate for doing Mass on Tuesday.) The DeKoven Center was a boy's college back in the Victorian era that went out of business during the Great Depression. After this, it became an Episcopal convent for about 50 years, and now is a non-profit retreat center.
As the slide show will show, it is indeed a grand old place. Lots of Victorian Gothic buildings and beautiful grounds. We were staying in Taylor Hall, which was the dormitory back in the day. I think we were the only visitors during the week, so we had the whole massive floor to ourselves. There was a wedding party renting the place out over the weekend, so we left before that. My daughter loved running up and down the hall, which is about a football field long.
As you can see in the pictures, a lot of the stone work was from the distinctive bricks that were made in the Lake Michigan region, which are very prominent in Chicago. The DeKoven Center is about 30 miles south of Milwaukee, just north of Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is the last stop on the commuter train to Chicago. If you are ever needing a place to stay near Milwaukee or Chicago, I recommend the Dekoven Center. For $65 a night, you can't find a hotel that cheap, especially right on Lake Michigan.
The City of Racine is a cute little town. They have a nice city zoo, and a downtown area with lots of docks and boats. My father and I, when we were going up to Milwaukee to see a Brewers game (more on that in a subsequent blog entry), actually got stopped on our way our of Racine for the draw bridge opening. We chose Racine because our daughter is really too small to go on long day trips, but with the Commuter train to Chicago about 15 minute drive south, or a half hour or so car trip up to Milwaukee, there are certainly day trips that can be made from Racine, which is a pretty central location to both cities.
We had a lot of fun walking around the grounds at the DeKoven center. Plenty of places to run around for a little one. If you are in the area, do stop it.
They also have a nice bookstop.